According to the Book of Hebrews, did Enoch actually die? How is this "contradiction" resolved?

Excerpted from this answer, https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/27939/6338

By faith Enoch was translated that he - should - not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God...

...These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:5 & 13


Is it not the case that the writer, having clearly stated that Enoch did not see death, then excludes Enoch from the statement, "These all died," ?

It is unnecessary for the writer to break into the second statement and add "except for Enoch" as the writer has already excluded that singular circumstance by previously defining it separately.

  • 1
    Nijel - I think this is a logical argument, and reflects "plain meaning interpretations", (so +1). However, the entire New Testament presupposes that the rational/logical inferences the elders made were entirely wrong. So, it would be more helpful if there are textual indications, (Greek or Hebrew), or any evidence that this phrase was ever used literally, or metaphorically. Granted - if none of those evidences exist, then I think this answer would suffice. So, I suppose this answer is an example of a vaild "argument from silence". – elika kohen Sep 28 '17 at 23:25

This question has not an answer plainly in scripture and without answering suggest a place to look. There were two that seemingly went to heaven before dying and they were Enoch in Genesis 5:24 and Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11.

We see in John 17:10-13 and Jesus said Elijah truly shall first come and restore all things 12 But I say unto you, that Elijah is come already and they new him not, but have done unto him whatever they listed.

Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. We see in John 21:21-22 where Peter seemed he was to do more than john and Jesus said If I will that he tarry till I come what is that to thee follow thou me. In Revelations 10:8-11 when John was handed the little book and told to eat it.

The 11th verse the angel told him Thou must prophesy again before many peoples and nations and tongues and kings. I may be wrong but I do not believe that has happened. If I may suggest as Elijah's spirit was in John the Baptist maybe Enoch's spirit may be one of the two witnesses along with John.in Revelations 11

I hope this is not to far out there and I understand if this is rejected, but these questions may not be able to be answered with references. But all will die from the first Adam. Luke 2:26 KJV And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost that he should not ἰδεῖν θάνατον horaó thanatos (see death) before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Heb.11:5 KJV By faith Enoch was translated that he should not ἰδεῖν θάνατον horaó thanatos (see death)….

Here is one in John 8:51 is same word for death but he shall never see θεωρήσῃ theóreó more of an I behold, look at, experience.

Also in Ps. 89:48KJV What man is he that liveth , and shall not see death וְלֹ֣א wə-lō (no) יִרְאֶה־ yir-’eh- (see) מָּ֑וֶת mā-weṯ; (death) I believe that Simeon in Luke is the match the Holy Ghost told him he would not die before he saw Jesus same wording as in Hebrews. I ‘m pretty sure that not see death is not to die. I don’t feel it is a contradiction just something’s harder to grab hold of. Enoch was taken up. Where?

  • Upvoted (+1) but may I suggest that you make paragraphs, as it helps to separate different points and is much easier on the eye than trying to read a 'wall of text'. – Nigel J Nov 27 '17 at 9:45

(Note: I can’t give you what’s in the Book of Hebrews, so I'll just present this).

In Genesis 5, Enoch is the only father in the list of generations who doesn’t have wording such as “then he died” shown. However, there are a couple of other things, in that chapter and elsewhere in Genesis, that lead me to believe he never died.

Gen 5:21-24 (NAB) When Enoch was sixty-five years old, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 Enoch lived three hundred years after the birth of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. 23 The whole lifetime of Enoch was three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 Then Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him.

Enoch spent a lifetime of 365 years on earth. Then he “walked with God… for God took him.”

In Genesis, there are only two people who “walked with God”. Those are the two who had their lives saved. Enoch “walked with God” just before God assumed him into heaven. Noah was the only other person in Genesis who “walked with God”

Gen 6:9-10 (NAB) These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man and blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10 Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Like Enoch, Noah’s life was saved; unlike Enoch though, God didn’t assume Noah into heaven and save his life permanently. Instead, God saved Noah’s life temporarily; Noah “walked with God” just before he was allowed to survive the flood. Yes, family members were allowed to survive the flood too, but that was because someone was needed to people the earth.

  • John - Let's concede that no one actually died during Enoch's life, (and suppose that no one else was alive and died, near his family, at that time, (otherwise their wives lead to objections). Still, the issue is: Even if Enoch didn't see anyone die, it doesn't "follow" that the writer of Hebrews MUST have been literal. Did the writer ever make any other very indirect/obscure references like this - without explanation - so we know it is in their "style". Was this phrase ever used elsewhere, in ancient literature, literally as you propose? I do think this "observation" is clever, (so +1). – elika kohen Sep 28 '17 at 23:20


Jesus was in heaven when Enoch died and he would have known if he went to heaven. In view of Jesus clear statement at Jonn 3:13,

*"No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man."(NASB)

  • Enoch certainly was not taken to heaven. God disposed of Enoch's body like He did for Moses for "he was nowhere to be found." (Deuteronomy 34:5,6 )

Enoch is one of the righteous servants of God mentioned by Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews ( chapter 11:5,13) and who are still awaiting the promise of resurrection. (John 5:28,29; Hebrews 11:26, 39,40)

  • The question was asked specifically to address the apparent contradiction. You have reasserted one side of the problem but not the other. How do you deal with the Hebrew's passage other than ignoring it? Or are you saying that he is still alive but hidden in a cave or something? – Ruminator Nov 26 '17 at 0:04

Enoch, like Melchizedek appears briefly in Genesis and then does not reappear in the Protestant canon until "To the Hebrews". While less is said in Hebrews about Enoch than about Melchizedek much is written of Enoch in extra-biblical writings.

However, "the scrolls of Enoch" was an early apocalypse that was popular with Jews and Christians alike but not included in the Catholic or Protestant canons. It was quoted by NT writers and seems to have influenced many NT passages.

I'm too lazy to give an exhaustive report on the place of Enoch in this answer but I will point out that he was clearly understood to not have died and to have been transported directly into the sky, to where God and the angels are. In addition he is taken on a tour of the place of the dead and the prison of angels.

He also appears to be equated with Philo's logos and the messenger that accompanied Moses on the Exodus.

For further reading please consult:




The one thing I do want to call attention to that is particularly relevant to the question at hand is Peter's cryptic reference to Enoch's preaching to the angels in prison in which he seems to be identifying Christ with Enoch!:

NIV 1 Peter 3: 18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,

This is a clear reference to the scrolls of Enoch:

[Chapter 15] 1 And He answered and said to me, and I heard His voice: 'Fear not, Enoch, thou righteous 2 man and scribe of righteousness: approach hither and hear my voice. And go, say to the Watchers of heaven, who have sent thee to intercede for them: "You should intercede" for men, and not men 3 for you: Wherefore have ye left the high, holy, and eternal heaven, and lain with women, and defiled yourselves with the daughters of men and taken to yourselves wives, and done like the children 4 of earth, and begotten giants (as your) sons? And though ye were holy, spiritual, living the eternal life, you have defiled yourselves with the blood of women, and have begotten (children) with the blood of flesh, and, as the children of men, have lusted after flesh and blood as those also do who die 5 and perish. Therefore have I given them wives also that they might impregnate them, and beget 6 children by them, that thus nothing might be wanting to them on earth. But you were formerly 7 spiritual, living the eternal life, and immortal for all generations of the world. And therefore I have not appointed wives for you; for as for the spiritual ones of the heaven, in heaven is their dwelling. 8 And now, the giants, who are produced from the spirits and flesh, shall be called evil spirits upon 9 the earth, and on the earth shall be their dwelling. Evil spirits have proceeded from their bodies; because they are born from men and from the holy Watchers is their beginning and primal origin; 10 they shall be evil spirits on earth, and evil spirits shall they be called. [As for the spirits of heaven, in heaven shall be their dwelling, but as for the spirits of the earth which were born upon the earth, on the earth shall be their dwelling.] And the spirits of the giants afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, do battle, and work destruction on the earth, and cause trouble: they take no food, but nevertheless 12 hunger and thirst, and cause offences. And these spirits shall rise up against the children of men and against the women, because they have proceeded from them.

[Chapter 16] 1 From the days of the slaughter and destruction and death of the giants, from the souls of whose flesh the spirits, having gone forth, shall destroy without incurring judgement -thus shall they destroy until the day of the consummation, the great judgement in which the age shall be 2 consummated, over the Watchers and the godless, yea, shall be wholly consummated." And now as to the watchers who have sent thee to intercede for them, who had been aforetime in heaven, (say 3 to them): "You have been in heaven, but all the mysteries had not yet been revealed to you, and you knew worthless ones, and these in the hardness of your hearts you have made known to the women, and through these mysteries women and men work much evil on earth." 4 Say to them therefore: " You have no peace."'

[Chapter 21] ...Then I said: 'How 9 fearful is the place and how terrible to look upon!' Then Uriel answered me, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said unto me: 'Enoch, why hast thou such fear and affright?' And 10 I answered: 'Because of this fearful place, and because of the spectacle of the pain.' And he said unto me: 'This place is the prison of the angels, and here they will be imprisoned for ever.''

So I see every reason to believe that Hebrews, as well as Peter to have understood Enoch to have been transported to "heaven" and "descended into hell" and preached to the angels in Tartarus, the prison of angels, in the days of Noah.

  • +1. But, I am not sure if you are actually equating "watchers of men", (from Enoch), to "imprisoned spirits", (from Peter). 1 Peter seems to be making a reference to mankind, whereas Enoch seems to be speaking about Angels. If they are speaking about different things, I am not sure how the passages can be associated like this. – elika kohen Dec 5 '18 at 19:28
  • The watchers were angels that sinned and were put into Tartarus. Peter mentions that elsewhere in his writings. I'm not at the keyboard right now. – Ruminator Dec 5 '18 at 20:17
  • I also should say that when I wrote that post I was under the impression that Enoch was older than it was. That I don't think can be shown. I had gotten some false information about it being found in qumran which appears to have been misinformation. – Ruminator Dec 5 '18 at 20:18

Hebrews 11:5 does not actually say Enoch did not die. It says that he did not see death. I interpret this to mean Enoch never saw anyone die.

Here is a graph showing the lifespans of early mankind.

Enoch was "taken up" when he was 365 years old. He was only 57 when Adam died at age 930. By this time, mankind had been spreading out through the land, and at the young age of 57, who knows what Enoch was doing when Adam died; or even how long it would have taken someone to deliver the news to him.

Seth wouldn't die for another 55 years after Enoch was taken, and since he was taken a few years before Noah was born, he was probably dead before the flood. Noah was 600 when the flood began, so Enoch would have been 1034, which was a very decent lifespan at this time. Enoch could have died a few years before the flood, and would still have outlived Adam's age.

  • @elikakohen I have actually looked up the instances of "see death" in the Scriptures. The closest I've found that uses the word ὁράω for "see" is Luke 2:26. I would have no problem interpreting this passage as physically seeing death, but I don't accept the first two chapters of Luke anyways. If you know of such a passage, please share and we can look at it. Who knows? Maybe Hebrews contradicts Yeshua and I should just get rid of it anyways. I like it too much though. – Cannabijoy Sep 28 '17 at 12:07
  • Thanks for the +1. I'm not sure if finding another example would help much. We're talking about a very unique situation. Also, the letter was written to the Jewish people, so I believe a Hebrew metaphor would be more appropriate. The only thing I can find is Psalm 89:48 "What man [is he that] liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah." This may be a good separate question. Is this to be taken metaphorical, or does the psalmist mean "What man has lived but hasn't seen death? Can he even deliver his own soul from the hand of sheol?" – Cannabijoy Sep 29 '17 at 13:00
  • What is intended by "translated"? – Ruminator Nov 26 '17 at 22:56

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